- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The 6-year-old Virginia boy who police said intentionally shot his teacher last month had choked another teacher “until she couldn’t breathe” and chased pupils around in an attempt to whip them with his belt, according to a legal notice filed on behalf of the wounded teacher.

The filing also said the boy “slammed” and broke first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner’s phone just two days before shooting her at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, according to the claim notice obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request. 

He was given a one-day suspension over the incident. When he returned on Jan. 6, he pulled a 9 mm handgun out of his pocket and fired a single shot that went through Ms. Zwerner’s hand and into her upper chest. 

The new details in the notice add to a troubling sequence of events that Diane Toscano, the attorney for Ms. Zwerner, said took place throughout the day. 

At least three teachers and staff tried to warn school administrators that they believed the boy brought a gun to school.    

The first of those warnings came from Ms. Zwerner when she went to speak with former Assistant Principal Ebony Parker around 11:15 a.m. According to the notice, Ms. Zwerner told Ms. Parker the accused shooter “seemed more ‘off’ than usual and was in a violent mood.”

Examples in the filing included that the pupil threatened to beat up a kindergartener and also “angrily stared down” the school security officer in the lunchroom.  

A different teacher approached Richneck’s administrators an hour later to say she searched for the gun in the boy’s backpack and believed he put it in his pocket before going outside for recess. 

Administrators were warned a third time when a pupil revealed to teachers that the accused first-grade shooter showed the pupil the gun at recess and threatened to shoot if he was told on, Ms. Toscano said. 

Ms. Parker resigned from her position last month. Richneck Principal Briana Foster Newton was reassigned within the school district, and the school board voted to remove school system Superintendent George Parker during a January meeting as well.

The school system told AP it’s not sure if Ms. Parker has retained an attorney. The school board will decide if the school system will represent Ms. Parker in the upcoming lawsuit.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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